Disclaimer: I want to note that the country of Fiji and my experience there was nice. If you want to see Fiji, I would go. The following is just a terrible experience that I had with Fiji Airways. In addition to describing this whole experience to you, I am also treating it as a “cathartic” exercise for myself. After this, I will not be talking about this because I want to focus on the trip itself (which was amazing). If anyone comments on this post, I will briefly respond but that will be the extent of it. Thanks!
I thought I liked you, Fiji Airways, but it turns out that I was wrong.
I am currently in transit on my way home from a nice holiday where I spent time in Fiji, New Zealand, and Australia. Although, hopefully, by the time that you read this I will back safe in Canada.
I want to begin by pointing out the good things about Fiji Airways because, like I said, I thought that I liked them in the beginning. Their new planes are quite nice (even in economy). They have individual screens for each passenger, though their headphones aren’t good at all (you’ll want to bring a headphone “splitter”, if that’s the right term, and use your own pair). They have a nice selection of movies, with the titles on my most recent flight including American Sniper, Kingsman: Secret Service, Pirates of the Caribbean 4, and all three Hobbit films. They also had TV shows (first three episodes of The Flash, and other shows like Gotham and New Girl). They provide you with a pillow and blanket for the longer flights, and the seats aren’t too bad either. The food is okay as far as airplane food goes, although it isn’t all that good anyways. I lowered my expectations of food though, just because of that.
For all intents and purposes, Fiji Airways seems good. Right? Well I guess, until you are one of the many passengers who are hit by their flight delays and cancellations, something that they are notorious for as I have recently found out. Many passengers indicate that their flights were delayed or cancelled for no apparent reason. Mine? Well, a reason was given but the story just doesn’t seem right to me. This is my experience as it stands right now…I’ll probably add to it later.
This morning, my family and I arrived at the Sydney, Australia airport well in advance for our first flight on our journey home to Canada. This one would stop in Fiji, where we would be for a couple hours before boarding our next flight to LA, where we would then be for a couple hours before boarding a flight to Toronto.
When we arrived at the Fiji Airways check-in desk/gate, there was a lot of confusion from the lady there about our flight to LA. There was no Fiji Airways flight going to LA today, she told us. But we had it booked and it is on our itinerary. It turns out that our second Fiji Airways flight was cancelled and rescheduled for the next morning at 0830. We would have never found this out had we not asked about our connecting flight—they weren’t going to tell us, it seems. Then, we are told that we should always check in 72 hours before our flight to see that everything is still good. However, it turns out that another family who were supposed to be on the same flight has us had done that (48 hours before actually) and everything had seemed fine then.
The reasoning we were given? They are a plane short because one hit something on the tarmac last week and it wouldn’t be ready until the next morning. Somehow, I find that very hard to believe. Tarmacs, as I understand, are clear. What could they have possibly hit to cause that much damage to a plane that it would take a week to fix? I have looked it up as well, and apparently this reason has been given before. You would think that, if it had happened once, they would at least be more careful. Apparently not. My suspicion is that maybe the flight wasn’t as booked as they would like so they cancelled it.
Even after getting the information from this lady at the desk, we had really no idea what was going on with our next flights. She didn’t seem to really make a huge effort to help us out, and really just lectured about checking (really? It wouldn’t have helped us in this scenario). It was too late to transfer to a different airline and flight, according to her.
As I am writing this, I am lying in a hotel room in Fiji across from the airport. It is 22:38, and I need to spend the night here. They have with accommodation and a food voucher (ha), and we will be on our way on another Fiji Airways flight in the morning. Before I get to the kerfuffle that this second flight will be causing, I want to discuss the accommodation.
The hotel itself is fine, although there is only a fan in the room rather than air conditioning that we had at our place when we stayed in Fiji before. It’s muggy, so kind of uncomfortable. But overall, the room seems nice. But the food voucher…oh the food voucher. My family and I were each given $30 for food. When we arrived at the hotel restaurant, it got interesting. We got our $30 of food…but it was from a special “Delay Menu” where there were literally only three options. All of which, coincidentally, cost exactly $30. So we couldn’t even get what we would really want to eat and drinks were not included. Only water, which was not cold. Beyond that, what if I were a vegetarian, vegan, or gluten free? None of the options on the list would have been okay for me to eat. I’m not sure what kind of deal Fiji Airways has made with this hotel, but it really is terrible. $30 in Fijian dollars, by the way, might be about $15 in Canadian. Something like that, but it isn’t much.
So the second flight that had been cancelled was rescheduled—just a refresher. Unlucky for my family and I, we had another connecting flight out of LA to Toronto (operated by Air Canada). Thanks to this mess, we will not be able to make that flight and have been rescheduled on another flight. This has resulted in another overnight stay (the only thing mildly amusing is that I experience the night of May 31st twice). Will the hotel be nice? Maybe. But with the experience of the food voucher here, I am not looking forward to whatever they have there.
Signing off for now, but I will continue this post once I am in LA and past the next Fiji Airways flight. Let’s just hope that it goes smoothly.
I am not amused, Fiji Airways. Not in the slightest.
LA was a nightmare. That is the only word that I can think of to even come close to my experience there with Fiji Airways.
The flight I boarded (June 1st) in Fiji wasn’t fantastic. The selection was largely the same as the flight I had just had, so I spent time re-watching movies. Including a Pirate of the Caribbean re-watch, which was fine with me because not only do I enjoy those movies but they also remind me of a good friend. Anyways, the food supplied on the flight was so below the standard of airplane food I had come to expect. Not just pretty sub-par, but actually disgusting. I did get restless as it was a long flight, but I did make it through.
We arrived in LA at about 23:45 on May 31st, and after getting through US Customs and such, we were in another line for Fiji Airways to get accommodation for the night until our next flight. It was quite a long line, considering that they had apparently screwed up a large number of people’s itineraries. We finally received our hotel information/voucher and heading to the shuttle area where we waited. Again. After maybe 20 minutes or so, when the shuttle for our hotel had just arrived, a Fiji Airways Rep comes out saying that they made a mistake and that was the wrong hotel. The correct one? Yes, that shuttle had come maybe 5 minutes prior, so we had another wait until another one of those shuttles came. Once we finally got to the hotel we had to wait at reception again while the receptionists handled the surge of people coming in. At this point we were given meal vouchers to go with our room, and after finding out that the only thing open at this time (02:00) was room service, we headed up to our room.
Oh it gets better. Once we are in the room it is clearly not cleaned. The beds were made, but there were banana peeks and an empty container for a protein shake on a desk, and in the bathroom the soap was already open and there was no shampoo. Fun times. Super uncomfortable. Now technically this part, the uncleanliness of the room, was the hotel’s fault. However, I cannot help but wonder if Fiji Airways (or another airline but frankly Fiji Airways seems the most likely subject given newfound information) had screwed up other flights and whoever was in this room before hadn’t been out that long before we arrived.
We did end up having showers, so at least we were semi-cleaned up at this point, but our experience got worse. Those meal vouchers we got? Yeah, on them it was printed that they were not valid for room service. Not only that, but room service wouldn’t even answer our calls. With nothing else open, we had no choice but to just stay in our room without food. The thing was, we figured that we would try the Starbucks in the lobby once it opened. But when we got there they said they shouldn’t be taking it either (although we did have a very nice lady take all three vouchers which were worth $90 in exchange for juice and muffins…which is ridiculous), and the breakfast restaurant was not going to be open early enough for us to get anything as we had to return to the airport. Really, by the time we had gotten to the hotel there wasn’t much point in being there in the first place…I think we were there for about 2 or 3 hours (if that) before returning to the airport.
I am honestly appalled with my experience in LA with the havoc that Fiji Airways caused. I understand that sometimes flights are delayed or cancelled for various reasons, as frustrating as it is. It’s great the airlines will compensate you accordingly, as they definitely should. I just find it appalling that the “compensation” and “accommodation” that Fiji Airways supplied in LA was that bad. There is NO good reason for this. Absolutely none. It should have been handled so much better, and the meal vouchers should have been worked out so that they were actually useful to us, rather than only getting a measly amount of food by an employee who I hope does not get in trouble, for all of the funds we were provided with.
I expect better. I have been through the ringer with all of this. Tired, hungry, frustrated, angry, and honestly I think I actually cried. I was venting to my friend over and over about this as it was happening…I am so grateful that they listened and although they said it was fine I do hope they weren’t annoyed.
Finally, I have one more thing to mention. Earlier on I believe I talked about the reasoning given for our flight’s cancellation being that they were one plane short after one being damaged. From some more information from other people that I have now received, I really doubt that is the truth even more than I did before. Apparently this has been happening for around 4 weeks with so many delays and cancellations. My suspicion, shared by my parents, is that they simply don’t have enough people at this time of year flying on their planes so they are trying to combine flights. I now count myself lucky that my other flights with Fiji Airways at the beginning of my trip weren’t disrupted.
I know it is expensive to fly planes across the ocean, but I still find this entire thing ridiculous, unnecessarily stressful, and in terms of LA: nightmarish. I am also trying to be really polite given how recent this was and the intense feelings that are going through me right now. Not just that but I am running on maybe an hour of sleep within the last 31 hours. But with all of this…with what has happened… I am going to actively avoid ever flying Fiji Airways again if I can. Temper is running high, I know, but still. It was a terrible experience. I wouldn’t recommend them to friends if there are any other options.
I am now back in Canada safe and sound (for the most part), but quite distraught over this whole experience. Now though? I’m going to focus on the wonderful experience I had when I was in New Zealand and Australia. You’ll hear about that soon.